Halloween is just days away, but mom of four Patti Schmidt has been thinking about it for a while now. Five years to be exact.
With three grown sons, the New Jersey-based photographer found out she was pregnant again at age 44.
"Initially they were as surprised as we first were, and that quickly turned to excitement," Schmidt told TODAY Parents of sons Larry, 28, Patrick, 26, and Gavin, 22. "By the time I turned 40 I had given up hope for another baby, but there were other plans in store for us."
Schmidt realized her youngest, Avery, now 5, would not share the same childhood memories at Halloween as her sons have, so the family embarked on a new tradition.
The proud mom combined creativity and her love of photography to make adorable family costumes that include all four children.
In the inaugural year, 2017, the foursome were characters in The Wizard of Oz.
"Avery's mid-air in that photo, because at the time I had a little photo series called #averyintheair and thought it would be fun to do in costume for October," Schmidt explained.
The following years included themes from "Star Wars" and "Game of Thrones."
"My husband and I we were binge-watching (Game of Thrones), and I thought the boys as dragons would be so funny," Schmidt said.
In 2020, the siblings recreated "The Princess Bride," which Schmidt revealed was her favorite.
A compilation of costumes through the years has garnered more than two million views, and nearly 1,000 comments on Instagram.
Schmidt told TODAY that this year's costume is being kept under wraps until showtime, but that her sons don't mind the yearly tradition.
"They've never balked... they've always been willing. But there may or may not be a good-natured groan or two when I pull out the next theme," she said. "They mostly laugh about it."
At 5, Avery shares a special bond with her grown brothers.
"They are close despite not only age differences but physical distance," Schmidt said. "Our two oldest sons live in different states, but they're within driving distance, and I try to get everyone together as much as possible."
Though she didn't plan for the age gap between her children, Schmidt said she would not change it.
"They have such a unique and special relationship," she said.